How To Become A Firefighter In Mississippi


how to become a firefighter in Mississippi

You may not expect Mississippi to have big need for firefighters, but there are plenty of aspiring firefighters asking how to become a firefighter in Mississippi. 

You might even be of the opinion that Mississippi won’t have quite as many dangers and risks as other states in the Deep South. Louisiana always seems to get the worst of the flooding and the biggest storms hit the gulf and the coast of South Carolina.

But, firefighters here have a lot to contend with. There is a threat to life related to fire, flood and medical incidents can often be exacerbated by the poverty in rural areas, the climate and some state laws.

It takes the right kind of candidate to be a firefighter in Mississippi. So, how can you sign up and make a difference?

How to Become a Firefighter in Mississippi

  • High school diploma or GED certificate.
  • Eighteen (18) years of age or older.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen with no felony convictions or other serious criminal backgrounds. Must possess a valid driver’s license.
  • Must complete a training program as determined by the Fire Chief.
  • The applicant recommended for employment shall be required to successfully pass a urinalysis and/or blood test to screen for alcohol and/or drug abuse.

At the entry-level stage of the process, these requirements are pretty simple. But, as I will show below, there are other considerations in the hiring process.

I will also highlight some of the roles and responsibilities in Mississippi, the risk factors in different areas and the training available. I will end with a look at some of the major fire departments and the job prospects in the state.

Firefighting in Mississippi

For the most part, the hiring process in Mississippi is very similar to that of other states. Candidates will go through the same type of written and physical examination process to find the best applicants.

This means that you need a passing grade as determined by the department (usually between 70-80). That grade can vary by department, as can the specific events in the fitness testOpens in a new tab.. Those that do well here will go on to the firefighter interviewOpens in a new tab. and the rest of the screening process.

Most of the interviews and background checks are pretty standard. Panels will want to know about your strengths and weaknesses, your character and your past experience. This does mean submitting to a background check about your past employment and criminal record.

They will also conduct drug screeningOpens in a new tab.. One factor that stands out in major departments here is the use of the polygraphOpens in a new tab. and psychological profile. It seems that Mississippi fire departments really want to be sure that you are a good fit before they offer you conditional employment.

There are three main issues that firefighters need to prepare for when working in Mississippi.

Naturally, the first area of training and response to consider in Mississippi is fire suppression. There will always be a demand for skilled firefighters in this state that can handle fires effectively. This could mean a major blaze at a facility or large building in a city, a small residential fire or a wildfire in a state park.

Firefighters need to understand the risks posed in their area and the appropriate strategies to deal with them. On-going training in fire safety, prevention and suppression are a must. Specialist skills in hazardous materials, structural fires and entrapments help too.

Then there are all the vehicular accidents and medical emergencies that follow from that. Every state has a risk of car accidents and fatalities on the road in built-up areas and near major highways. But, the risk is higher in Mississippi.

The state is known as one of the deadliest places to drive. There were 685 deaths in 2017 at a rate of 22.9 per 100,000 people. This is partly due to the road system but also down to relaxed laws on alcohol in cars.

Then there are the flood and water rescues.

Mississippi is at risk from flooding because of two major factors – the river and the rise in storms. The river can rise and burst its banks, especially in bad weather. Communities in poorer areas on these banks can struggle with the aftermath for a long time.

This is exactly what happened fairly recently in Vicksburg. This spring, the town was flooded very badly and was left to deal with the water and the impact on their town. Their homes were flooded, water began to settle, and it encouraged dangerous wildlife into the area.

In an ideal situation, the fire department would have all the funding and equipment necessary to ensure that they can evacuate people, pump out the water and secure the area. Firefighters can be the first line of response after a flood and can provide water rescues, medical aid and other support to these communities.

The other risk comes in the form of major storms and hurricanes that hit the coasts around Florida and Louisiana. These storms don’t always make it as far inland as the majority of Mississippi. But, there are exceptions, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

There was a massive storm surge here that caused major damage in Biloxi, Gulfport and Pascagoula where 238 people died. While this was a long time ago now, the increase in tropical storms and severe weather events means that fire departments need to be ready for the very worst-case scenarios.

Fire Academies in Mississippi

This all shows just how important it is to gain appropriate training in fire science and other essential skills. The following colleges and fire academiesOpens in a new tab. have all offered some form of certificate or degree course. There is also the chance to train at the state academy.

The Fire Protection Technology Program at Meridian works in three stages. First, there is the entry-level certificate achieved by completing 10 core subjects in fire science. This certificate is a good starting point for the profession with a good overview of skills and techniques.

Those that put in an additional 15 hours of study can turn this into a technical certificate. Then there is the chance to gain an associate degree with further specialist modules in the subject. This is advisable to those that want to go on into higher roles and administration positions in the service.

The credits are also transferable for bachelor’s degree courses in other colleges. You can learn more hereOpens in a new tab..

The state fire academy in Jackson claims to train approximately 15,000 students each year. That means courses for rookies looking for their initial certification and those advancing their education in specialist roles.

They do so with their facilities on campus as well as off-site training that delivers programs at local departments. You can learn more about training here at this linkOpens in a new tab..

Major Fire Departments in Mississippi

The following is a list of major fire departments in Mississippi.  While it isn’t comprehensive it’s a great place to start if you’re interested in learning more about how to become a firefighter in Mississippi.

How to Become a Jackson, MS Firefighter

  • High school diploma or GED certificate.
  • Eighteen (18) years of age or older.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen with no felony convictions or other serious criminal backgrounds. Must possess a valid driver’s license.
  • Must complete a training program as determined by the Fire Chief.
  • The applicant recommended for employment shall be required to successfully pass a urinalysis and/or blood test to screen for alcohol and/or drug abuse.

The first department that I want to talk about is also one of the biggest in the state. The city is the largest in terms of population with 164,422 estimated to live there in 2018. The city also stretches for 113.23 square miles.

That is a lot of ground to cover for staff on fire, rescue and medical calls. However, this state capital department doesn’t have the best rating right now. They are an ISO 3 department trying to improve their status with more funding, better equipment and new programs.

Those that sign up to work here could be part of a push towards a better fire service. Find out more hereOpens in a new tab..

How to Become a Gulfport, MS Firefighter

  • High school diploma or GED certificate.
  • Eighteen (18) years of age or older.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen with no felony convictions or other serious criminal backgrounds. Must possess a valid driver’s license.
  • Must complete a training program as determined by the Fire Chief.
  • The applicant recommended for employment shall be required to successfully pass a urinalysis and/or blood test to screen for alcohol and/or drug abuse.

Another department that I want to highlight here is Gulfport. This is a class 2 all-hazards response agency that has a lot of divisions due to its location.

The city itself isn’t that big. There were around 400,000 residents in the greater metropolitan area in 2018. But, there are lots of workers, tourists, residents and service personnel stationed with the US Navy Seabees fleet.

That means that the city needs a skilled department with a fast response time. The department is home to specialist divisions for hazardous materials, search and rescue, dive rescue and maritime fire suppression. You can learn more about this department hereOpens in a new tab..

Job Prospects for Firefighters in Mississippi

The most interesting statistic for job prospects for firefighters in Mississippi in 2018 was that the annual mean wage here was the lowest in mainland America.

Crew members received an average of $30,370 annually.

In contrast, nearby Louisiana firefighters are getting marginally more at $30,600. If we count Puerto Rico in these stats, they make Mississippi looks a little better as they only got $25,100.

At this time, there were 3,090 firefighters employed with a rate of 2.75 per 1000 jobs. Obviously, pay rates can vary depending on the experience of the firefighter, additional skills and the location of the department.

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes332011.htm#stOpens in a new tab.

If you’re interested in learning how to become a firefighter in Mississippi, there are different ways to join the fire service if you have the dedication and drive to succeed.

You can train at one of the colleges or the academy to gain your education and certification. Then you can continue to learn on the job as you deal with the vast range of incidents in your jurisdiction. Firefighting in Mississippi is tough, but it is also a fulfilling role for the right person.

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